cobb, executive director
january 31, 2006
alert: shell game politics with internet filters
the senate finance committee had the opportunity
to require local libraries to install internet
filters as a prerequisite to receiving state funding
yet chose not to do so. sb
334, patroned by senator mark obenshain (r-26,
harrisonburg) was reported out of the general
laws committee earlier this session, but instead
of going directly to the senate floor, the bill
was sent to finance where it met its demise for
the third straight year.
past years, the bill has been defeated because
senators claimed that it would cost the state
too much money. in
fact, sb 334 will cost the state nothing and could
result in a savings because any library that installs
filtering software will receive federal money
otherwise unavailable to them.
congress has determined that in order to
receive grants, libraries must install protective
software. in virginia,
51 libraries or library systems have installed
filters and are receiving federal funds in the
amount of $850,000 in federal technology funds.
the senate finance committee completely disregarded
these arguments despite the best efforts of the
a move that shows the unwillingness of some senate
members to stand and be held accountable to the
constituency for their vote, the committee killed
this bill without taking an official vote on the
measure. the family
foundation thanks one committee member, senator
emmett hanger (r, 24, mount solon) for asking
for a vote on sb 334. this
bold motion did not receive a second, and thus
finance committee then made a move characteristic
of the senate. instead
of insisting localities accept money offered from
the federal government, this committee passed
176, a bill that creates a new state
fund of $500,000 to reimburse libraries for filters
that they have already purchased or choose to
purchase in the future. this
money comes in addition to the $17 million the
state already gives to local libraries.
the family foundation supports any incentive that
might be given to a library to encourage filters,
the incentive already exists in the form of thousands
of dollars available from the federal government.
because sb 176 does not require filters
be installed and offers fewer dollars than the
federal grants, it is unlikely to serve as an
incentive since libraries have already turned
down the federal funds.
debate on this fund, senator dick saslaw (d-35,
springfield) stated that local government bodies
should be able to choose to install filters and
if they do not, voters can respond by ousting
local board of supervisor members.
in essence, senator saslaw challenged the
grassroots system of the family foundation and
parents across virginia.
it is now up to us to demand that our loval
governing bodies require their libraries
to install filtering.
session, this will become a priority project of
the family foundation. we
will identify the 40 libraries that still need
filters and constituents willing to take action.
please be prepared to take this issue to
your local government body when the time comes!
let's turn an apparent defeat into victory!